Nestlé Waters North America Statement in Response to The Guardian

To Press Releases listOct 29, 2019

A recent article in The Guardian by a freelance writer is a blatantly biased and poorly researched story that communicates inaccurate and misleading information about Nestlé Waters North America and our operations in the United States. The writer reports the opinions of both unnamed critics and quoted environmental activists as fact, without citing scientific proof of their claims. He then goes on to insinuate illegal and unethical actions, and attribute negative intent by the company across the board.

There is another side to the story that stands in sharp contrast, and it is backed up by facts and scientific data. At Nestlé Waters, we operate under the principles of putting our communities first, being good water stewards, and promoting healthy hydration. We invest in infrastructure; contribute money, water, and volunteer hours to local organizations; and provide water donations and disaster relief in times of emergency.

Continue reading below to learn more facts about our operations and the positive impact we have on the communities where we are located across the country.

Claims About Nestlé Waters North America


Claim


Facts

Nestlé Waters is draining our water nationwide.


Nestlé Waters North America is a relatively small commercial water user.
In fact, taken together, all bottled water production – not just that associated with Nestlé Waters North America – makes up just 0.011% of the total water use in the U.S1.

Spring water is a renewable resource.
The water we use is naturally replenished through the water cycle. For example, in Michigan, our data shows that over the past 17 years, there has been an increase in precipitation leading to a corresponding increase in aquifer levels. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and academic research, Michigan is a “wet region”—it is predicted to get wetter in the years ahead.

We are committed to the sustainable use of water in the communities where we live and operate.
We monitor our operations each year and adjust as needed to help ensure our shared resources are protected. Selecting and managing our water sources is a thorough and meticulous process guided by a dedicated team of engineers, geologists, and hydrogeologists who rigorously monitor a variety of environmental elements, including habitat assessments, water levels, water flows, and water withdrawals.

Depleting water resources would put us out of business.
Simply put: it would make absolutely NO sense to invest millions of dollars into our local operations just to deplete the natural resources on which our business relies. It would undermine the success of our business and go against every value we hold as people and as a company.

1 International Bottled Water Association (2015)

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Facts

Nestlé Waters wants to turn water from a public resource into a private one.

We do not compete with municipalities for water. EVER. And we do not privatize public water supplies.
For example, in communities like Evart, Michigan, where we purchase water, we have a clause in our agreement that specifies that, before we can purchase water, the community must have enough water to meet their needs.

We help improve communities’ access to water.
Again, in Michigan, we invested $1.5 million to evaluate and help provide a new city well in Osceola County that is used solely by the community. In California, we have partnered with the Cucamonga Valley Water District in San Bernardino County to support a groundwater treatment project that is expected to restore approximately 250 million gallons of additional safe, clean drinking water each year to the local water supply.

Bottled water cannot, and will not, replace tap water—and we never expect it to.
Bottled water does, however, play an important role in helping Americans stay hydrated at a time when more and more beverages are consumed away from home. Americans have a growing preference for water—mineral, sparkling, flavored and still. In 2017, the sales of individual-sized bottled water surpassed sales of carbonated soft drinks for the first time ever. That’s great news for the health of our country as billions of calories are being taken out of the American diet. As the #1 bottled water brand in the Midwest, it’s also great news for the communities where we invest.

Bottled water is also essential in times of natural disaster or other emergencies. We frequently supply drinking water to local municipalities and first responders when the need is there. In 2018 alone, nationally we donated nearly 7 million bottles of water to communities in need.

 

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Facts

Nestlé Waters does not pay its fair share for water.


We pay the rate set by local regulatory bodies or the land/spring owners at all of our sites.
Those rates and what we pay for vary from site to site and who we pay depends on whether we own the sites. However, we do not receive a special rate for spring water use at any site. For example, we pay the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), which oversees the basin that stretches from New York through Pennsylvania and into Maryland, a per gallon fee for the consumptive use of water just like all commercial users. The SRBC uses that money to build and operate low flow mitigation facilities such as reservoirs. In Michigan, we pay an annual reporting fee and Water Supply Serial Number fee to the state for the sites we own.

We pay for costs associated with water.
We all pay for the cost associated with infrastructure, source development, source protection, administration, management, quality and delivery of water. That is true, whether someone is a customer of a water utility, owns their own well, or is a bottled water customer. We make significant investments in local infrastructure – hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact – across the country. For example, in Michigan, we have made capital investments totaling more than $267 million since we began operating in the state. In addition, across the U.S., we spend millions of dollars each year caring for and monitoring our spring sources, and maintaining more than 21,000 acres of watershed land as open space, which helps to safeguard local ecosystems.

We also bring social and economic value to the communities where we operate.
We do this by creating high-paying jobs with good benefits, hiring local vendors, paying local taxes, donating to local charities, employee volunteerism, and sharing our experience in water resource management. We also invest in many community projects, from watershed protection to waste cleanup to emergency donations.

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Facts

Nestlé Waters is a big, international conglomerate, and does not care about our local communities.


We are an international company with a significant U.S. presence.
While Nestlé Waters North America is owned by Nestlé S.A., which is based in Switzerland, we are an international company with a significant presence in the United States. Our headquarters is based in Stamford, Connecticut, and we have approximately 8,000 employees across the country.

Our employees don’t just work with the local community, they ARE the local community.
It is easy to forget, but Nestlé Waters North America, like any company, is made up of people who care about the environment and the well-being of their local communities, just like you do. They live, work and raise their families in the same communities where we operate, and for that reason, they are just as passionate as you are about protecting their neighbors and the natural resources of the area.

We are committed to local causes and organizations and support them regularly.
We support many community organizations, locally and nationally, through donations of water, food, supplies and money. In addition, our employees volunteer where they live and work to support meaningful community projects including environmental cleanups along rivers and highways.

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Facts

Nestlé’s CEO believes water is not a human right. I saw the video being circulated online.


We absolutely, unequivocally believe that water is a human right.
Safe, clean drinking water is essential to human life, and we believe that access to it is a fundamental human right. Everyone should have consistent access to quality water to meet daily hydration, cooking and hygiene needs.

The online video claiming otherwise is over 14 years old and depicts someone who is no longer our CEO.
Critics use a video interview that our former Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe gave in 2005 – more than 14 years ago – to claim that he thinks all water sources should be privatized. This is simply false.

The video is edited by critics to be intentionally misleading in order to advance a false narrative about our company.
Mr. Brabeck’s comments were taken out of context and engineered by critics to create an inaccurate soundbite that would scare and anger viewers.

Nestlé’s current chairman has affirmed that the company believes water is a human right.
As recently as March 2018, Nestlé’s current Chairman of the Board Paul Bulcke publicly stated: “At Nestlé, we unequivocally believe that access to water is a basic human right. Everyone, everywhere in the world, has the right to clean, safe water for drinking and sanitation.”

Learn more facts about Nestlé Waters North America.

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Facts

Nestlé Waters is operating illegally at Arrowhead Springs on an expired permit.


On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) renewed Nestlé Waters’ existing special use permit.
This permit is for the right-of-way for the four-inch in diameter, stainless steel pipeline we use to transport water from the springs in San Bernardino National Forest. More information about our permit can be found here: https://www.nestle-watersna.com/en/nestle-water-news/statements/us-forest-service-arrowhead-permit-statement.

Nestlé Waters holds senior water rights in California.
Like thousands of other companies, farms, and individuals, Nestlé Waters holds water rights to a small number of water sources in California, including Arrowhead Springs. Our company and its predecessors have held senior water rights to use the water from Arrowhead Springs since the late 1800s — before the San Bernardino National Forest was created. Since statehood, Californians have acquired water rights in accordance with the state’s statutes just like other property rights.

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Facts

Nestlé Waters has been ordered to stop withdrawing water from Arrowhead Springs.


The State Water Resources Control Board reaffirmed that we have rights to both groundwater and surface water at Arrowhead Springs.
In its draft report, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) staff acknowledged that Nestlé Waters has valid surface water rights and long-standing groundwater rights totaling 49.5 million gallons of water per year. We have submitted four reports to the SWRCB that directly establish that Nestlé Waters has not made any unauthorized water withdrawals. Additionally, our initial, second, third and fourth response include supporting scientific, historic and legal materials that supports additional water rights.

Learn more facts about Nestlé Waters North in California.

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Facts

Nestlé is profiting from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.


We’ve been providing free water and other support to Flint residents since the beginning of the crisis.
Starting in October 2015, our Ice Mountain team began shipping water donations to help the residents of Flint. In January 2016, we partnered with a coalition that included Walmart and other companies to provide safe, clean drinking water to meet the needs of more than 10,000 public school students in Flint.

We've never stopped helping the residents of Flint.
We’ve been working closely with the Flint community to understand their current needs, and how we can best help meet those needs. In early May 2018, we began partnering with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to provide regular bottled water deliveries to three help centers located at the Greater Holy Temple, Bethel United Methodist Church, and Asbury United Methodist Church.

From May 2018 through the end of August 2019, we have donated over 6.5 million bottles of water to the Help Centers and we have agreed to continue our bottled water donations.
Over the past two summers, we have deployed an Ice Mountain® Mobile Hydration Station to help deliver on-the-go hydration to members of the Flint community and surrounding areas. This trailer full of water visits various local events to enable community members to fill their cups or reusable water bottles free of charge. We are proud to have served Michigan residents more than 1,500 gallons of water from our Ice Mountain® Hydration Station.

Our operations in Michigan have absolutely NO connection to the crisis in Flint.
Nestlé Waters has never withdrawn water from any location in or near Flint. We source water from a completely different watershed, more than 120 miles away.

We’re helping donated water bottles get recycled.
In collaboration with Keep America Beautiful and Keep Genesee County Beautiful, Nestlé Waters and our corporate partners established recycling infrastructure and awareness programs to support the Flint school community.

Learn more facts about Nestlé Waters North in Michigan.

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Facts

Nestlé Water’s operations are draining Maine’s water supply.


Poland Spring uses only a fraction of water available in a local watershed.
Annually, all of Poland Spring’s water sources combined use less than one percent of all water used in Maine. Our annual statewide withdrawal represents roughly the same amount that evaporates off Sebago Lake during a hot summer month.

Over the past 174 years, Poland Spring has proven its track record of operating sustainably.
All of our spring withdrawals are permitted by state and, in many cases, local approvals that set strict limits to ensure sustainability. We manage our spring sources to strictly adhere to local, state and federal regulation and oversight by conducting ongoing monitoring and reporting to ensure that aquifer and surface waters, like wetlands, streams and rivers, are protected. We also consistently examine precipitation; aquifer water levels and stream flows to continuously evaluate conditions and regularly adjust our operations to ensure our water withdrawals are sustainable and meet all permit conditions.

Poland Spring has nothing to gain and everything to lose from depleting our shared water resources.
Simply put: it would make absolutely NO sense to deplete the natural resources on which our business relies. It would undermine the success of our business and go against every value we hold as people and as a company.

We care about Maine’s environment and its natural resources, and we manage our spring sources responsibly and for long-term sustainability.

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Facts

Poland Spring falsely advertises that its product is 100 percent spring water.


Nestlé Waters consistently meets or exceeds the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) stringent national standards for what qualifies as spring water.
The FDA defines spring water as "water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth." The FDA sets stringent national standards for what qualifies as "spring water" – standards that Nestlé Waters consistently meets or exceeds.

In Maine specifically, consumers can be confident in the accuracy of the labels on every bottle of Poland Spring, and that Poland Spring Natural Spring Water is just what it says it is – 100 percent natural spring water – a fact that was verified August 28, 2017, by the Maine Drinking Water Program, the state agency that enforces the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rules for bottled water in the state.
We work hard to ensure the quality and integrity of our spring water products earn our consumers’ trust and uphold the over 170-year history of the Poland Spring brand.

Learn more facts about Nestlé Waters North in Maine.

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Facts

The proposed increased withdrawals for Nestlé Water’s Ginnie Springs permit is not sustainable.


Nestlé Waters buys water from Seven Springs.
To be clear, the permit for water use at Ginnie Springs is held by Seven Springs, a local Florida business. They have the right to use and sell the permitted amount of water to NWNA or to anyone else. For over 20 years, Seven Springs has made the withdrawals and is responsible to maintain the wells and ensure that their withdrawals don’t go beyond the permitted amount. Nestlé Water’s purchase of spring water from Seven Springs will always remain within the level of their water use permit, which was granted by the SWRMD. Using water beyond the permitted amount would be cause for action by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), which can include fines or possible revocation of Seven Springs’ water use permit.

Ginnie Springs is a healthy spring.
Ginnie Springs is comprised of a large spring complex generating many millions of gallons of water daily. The springshed feeding the Ginnie Springs complex is estimated to be 33.5 square miles (21,000 acres) in size.

The maximum amount of water withdrawals allowed by the permit held by Seven Springs is 1.152 million gallons a day. While this sounds like a big number, it represents less than one quarter of one percent (0.22%) of the permitted groundwater in the Suwannee River Water Management District.

Water use in the lower Santa Fe River basin, where Ginnie Springs is located, is regulated by the Suwanee River Water Management District (SRWMD). The SRWMD is tasked with managing the regional balance between water withdrawal and aquifer water levels. It conducts water quality and quantity monitoring, research, regulation, land acquisition and management, and flood protection.

Water stewardship is a top priority for Seven Springs and Nestlé Waters.
Nestlé Waters is working with Seven Springs to implement a robust sustainability management process that will help ensure the long-term sustainability of Ginnie Springs.

Learn more facts about Nestlé Waters North in Florida.